From trash to cash: Dumpster diver finds new life in tossed cosmetics

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.
Data pix.

You've heard the old adage “one man's trash is another man's treasure.” Millennial are now giving that phrase new meaning.

For a post-college graduate working a full time job, dumpster diving can provide a supplement to one’s income.  One woman says she has school loans to pay off and she's selling the stuff she finds in the dumpsters to make money.

Finding makeup is Shelbi’s mission.

She's a college graduate living in Texas working full time in environmental regulations. At night, after the sun goes down, Shelbi and a friend go undercover.

"We leave the house around 9 because most businesses around us close at that time," she says. “We will basically go to the back of the stores with our headlamps and gloves and protective gear, protective shoes and see what we can find."

She finds food, vitamins, perfume, furniture, full bottles of unopened alcohol and cosmetics. She says that is the treasure of all treasures in trash bins near her home. She's so good at it, she regularly posts videos on YouTube all about the hunt and all about her finds.

"For me, if you're going seven nights a week, hitting five dumpsters a night, you'll be successful at least four of those seven nights," she says.

And by successful she means goods worth hundreds of dollars sometimes.

She targets stores like Ulta Beauty, Bed Bath and Beyond, T.J. Maxx and even grocery stores.

She says the trick is to know the schedules of your favorite stores and be persistent.

Shelbi says her adventures first began in college, she says, when she was really broke.

Back then she would resell discarded furniture on Facebook. Now she's up to it again, but her focus is on makeup.  She will find it, keep it, give it away to friends or sell it on Facebook to other people who buy the idea that dumpster diving can unearth some worthwhile treasures.

Over the years she says she probably collected between $10,000-$15,000 in goods.

After diving undercover in the dark of night, it is straight to the kitchen where the real work begins cleaning and spraying what she finds.

Laws against dumpster diving are different state to state and city to city. But you can bet if you're caught you might be facing trespassing charges.

Shelbi says she doesn't do it just for the money or the thrill. She says it’s about the environment and keeping what she calls perfectly good items out of landfills. She claims she wants to make people aware how wasteful corporate America can be.

"To get people's attention and get them involved it usually takes a visual representation and I’ve found that dumpster diving is how I can really get that message out there,” she says.


Latest News

More News